Why You Should Get a PhD in Chemistry

Going for the Ph.D.

Female science student pipetting in laboratory
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If you are interested in a chemistry or another science career, there are multiple reasons why you should consider pursuing your doctorate or Ph.D., rather than stopping at a master's degree or a bachelor's degree:

Reasons To Get a Ph.D. in Chemistry

  • More Money
    Let's start with a compelling reason for higher education -- money. There is no guarantee that having a terminal degree will earn the big bucks (don't get into science for money), but there are several states and companies that compute salaries based on education. The education can count for several years of experience. In some situations, a Ph.D. has access to a pay scale not offered to persons without the terminal degree, no matter how much experience he or she has.
  • More Career Options
    In the US, you can't teach college level courses without at least 18 graduate hours in the same field of study. However, Ph.D.s technically can teach college courses in any field. In academia, a Master's degree may provide a glass ceiling for advancement, especially to management positions. The terminal degree offers more research options, including some lab management positions not available otherwise, as well as post-doctoral positions.
  • Prestige
    In addition to getting the 'Doctor' in front of your name, having a Ph.D. commands a certain level of respect, particularly in scientific and academic circles. There are individuals who feel a Ph.D. is pretentious (a Piled higher and Deeper degree), but with work experience too, even these folk usually concede a Ph.D. is an expert in his or her field.
  • More Affordable Education
    If you are seeking a Master's degree, you will probably have to pay for it. On the other hand, teaching and research assistantships and tuition reimbursement usually are available for doctoral candidates. It would cost a school or research facility considerably more money to pay outright for such skilled labor. Don't feel you have to get a Master's degree before pursuing a Doctorate. Different schools have different requirements, but a Bachelor's degree is usually sufficient to get admitted into a Ph.D. program.
  • It's Easier To Start Your Own Company
    You don't need a terminal degree to start a business, but credibility comes with that Ph.D., giving you a leg up gaining investors and creditors. Lab equipment isn't cheap, so don't expect people to invest in you unless they believe you know what you're doing!

Reasons To Not Get a Ph.D. in Chemistry

While there are good reasons to pursue a doctoral degree, it's not for everyone.

Here are reasons not to get a Ph.D. or at least to delay it:

  • Long Term Low Income

You probably didn't finish your bachelor's and master's degree with a lot of excess cash. It might be in your best interest to give your finances a break and start working.

  • You Need a Break

Don't go into a Ph.D. program if you already feel burnt out, since it will take a lot out of you. If you don't have energy and a good attitude when you start, you probably won't see it through to the end or you may get your degree but not enjoy chemistry anymore.